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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

How the British Establishment think about England

Here are a few quotations which show how the British Establishment think about England:-

Labour – Jack Straw
“The English are potentially very aggressive, very violent”

John Prescott – “There is no such nationality as English”

Labour - Gordon Brown
“the Nations & Regions of Britain” [Note he means that Scotland, Wales & N Irleand are Nations - England is only a collection of Regions !]

Conservative & Unionist Dave Cameron
“I’ll take on the sour Little Englanders, I’ll fight them all the way”.

Conservative & Unionist William Hague
“English Nationalism is the most dangerous of all forms of nationalism”.

Liberal Democrats – Charlie Kennedy
Said that breaking England up into EU Regions is good because “it is calling into question the idea of England itself”.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Saturday's NC Meeting

The English Democrats had our monthly NC meeting on Saturday. Here is a short report about it:-

English Democrats Member’s overview of key discussion points

The National Council of the English Democrats met in Leicester on Saturday the 26th November 2011.

1. Derek Hilling submitted previous minutes and matters outstanding from October 2011.

2. Robin Tilbrook submitted the Chairman’s report including diary of events.

3. The current mail-shot was a resounding success yielding a healthy profit after costs. There was a positive response to the launch of the ‘England Awake’ newsletter. A supply of ‘England Awake’ newsletters will be made available for members to distribute throughout the country. There will be a mail-shot to members and supporters in December which will include a calendar highlighting key dates for 2012. The National Council wanted to thank everyone for their support.

Additional fund raising ideas were discussed including the recycling of printer cartridges. Details of the scheme will be made available to members in the forthcoming weeks.

4. Discussions were held on the structure/ objectives and specific ‘Job Roles’ of the National Council. Submissions are to be completed by the end of December.

5. A date has been set for the election of the Area Chairman for Yorkshire. Interested members are to make contact with National Party Secretary Derek Hilling e-mail your interest to

Papers for the election will be sent to members during February 2012 with the Spring Conference notice. The result of the election will be announced at the English Democrat Spring Conference.

6. The date of the English Democrat Spring Conference is to be Saturday 10th March (Subject to location availability. Details will be announced during December 2011).

7. The membership application from Eddie Butler to join the English Democrats was accepted.

8. Overview was provided by Stephen Morris on the ‘Elected Mayor’ campaign in Salford.

9. Roger Cooper was approved to be the official English Democrat candidate for the forthcoming Parliamentary By-Election in Feltham and Heston. Chris Newey was approved as the official English Democrat candidate in the forthcoming local council election to be held in Walsall.

10. A report was submitted on the plans and potential candidates including Mayoral candidate for the London Elections scheduled in 2012.

11. The standards committee reported that outstanding matters had been completed. A number of additional areas of focus were discussed and agreed for the forthcoming weeks.

12. Christmas Dinner arrangements were confirmed. The Event was fully subscribed.

13. A number of key initiatives were discussed to promote English Identity. Details will be released at the Spring Conference.

14. Additional promotional stands are being made available for local meetings including supplies of the Information Pack currently available on download from the website.

15. The next meeting is scheduled for the 14th January 2012.

David Ford Lane

English Democrats
Not right not left just English!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Anti-Englishness in High places?

In Friday's Daily Telegraph, a paper whose editorial line, since its purchase from the disgraced Lord Black by the hugely rich and aquisitive Barclay Brothers, has been strikingly anti-English, there was published the Article below.

My rhetorical question though is whether it is in any meaningful or any truthful sense valid for the Tories to claim that it is the SNP who are being "vindictive" - or is this a typical example of Tory duplicity?

Isn't it the British Unionist Establishment Parties, all three of which have, at various times when they sought electoral advantage, promised not to introduce Student Top up fees but which have swiftly betrayed the trust reposed in them by the English electorate, once they have got safely into a British Ministerial car?

Wasn't it those Parties, not the SNP, which imposed or increased the Fees "vindictively" only on English Students?

There is one final question:- How long will the English put up with such blatantly vindictive anti-Englishness?

Perhaps the answer lies in last week's Yougov poll result showing 63%, of a GB wide survey, showing unmistakeable signs of a rising sense of English Nationalism.

Perhaps it is needless to say that the Daily Telegraph altogether failed to publish the results of that Poll!
Here is the Article:-
Families may 'move from England to avoid tuition fee hike'
The rising cost of a university degree in England could create “fee refugees” as parents move to Scotland and Wales to escape huge debts, it was claimed today.

Families may attempt to move to Scotland or Wales to avoid fee rises in England, said HEFCE. 

By Graeme Paton, Education Editor

An analysis by the Government’s Higher Education Funding Council for England said families may flee over the border to avoid fees of up to £9,000 in 2012.

Parents living “close to the borders” are among those most likely to relocate to another country, it was claimed, potentially creating “distortive effects on local economies and housing markets”.

A move from England to Scotland could save students as much as £36,000 for a four year degree because of sharp differences in fees policies operated by devolved governments across the UK.

The comments came as it emerged that the Scottish Executive could carry out checks on applicants to ensure they are legitimate residents and not attempting to exploit the generous funding system north of the border.

From next year, English students will be forced to pay up to £9,000 wherever they study but Scottish undergraduates will be given free tuition.

Fees for Welsh students will be fixed at £3,465 and those in Northern Ireland will pay a similar amount, but only if they stay in their own region.

The system has already caused outrage in England, with several students pursuing legal action against the Scottish government amid claims that the fee rises will breach their human rights.

The Scottish Conservatives have branded the plans “vindictive” and warned that it would “stir up resentment in the rest of the UK against Scotland”.

A paper presented to a HEFCE board meeting warns that there “may be issues with families, particularly those close to the borders, seeking to domicile themselves in Wales or Scotland in order to benefit from favourable fee arrangements”.

The report adds: “This could have distortive effects on local economies and housing markets if it occurred with significant numbers.”

Bob Osborne, emeritus professor of public policy at Ulster University, told Times Higher Education magazine that if a family “was living 15 miles from the Scottish border then you can see how they might try to wangle it”.

But he doubted there was going to be a “mass exodus of people from Surrey to Glasgow”.

The Scottish Executive has already said children whose parents move to Scotland for their careers will be eligible for a free university education.

But families who seek to exploit the system by buying a home north of the Border will not. A spokesman said the Student Awards Agency for Scotland will decide on a case-by-case basis, with people not living north of the border for long likely to be scrutinised.

The HEFCE paper also warned that there is a “question of affordability” attached to the reforms for devolved administrations. Most countries are committed to subsidising students’ tuition even if they study outside their home country and budgets may stretched if universities in England put up their tuition fees, it was claimed.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

My Oral Evidence to the Kelly Commission

The Kelly Committee requested Sir Paul Judge and I to attend to give oral evidence as part of their inquiry into political party funding. After the hearings, I was sent this copy of their transcript of the session.


SIR DEREK MORRIS: Good afternoon, gentlemen. Thank you very much for coming in to give evidence to us. As I mentioned I am standing in for Sir Christopher Kelly who has unfortunately not been able to complete the rest of today’s hearings. He will be reading the record of this meeting in detail though. For that record could I ask you briefly just to introduce yourselves?

ROBIN TILBROOK: Robin Tilbrook. I am the Chairman of the English Democrats party.

SIR PAUL JUDGE: Paul Judge. Officially leader and treasurer of the Jury Team.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: Thank you. You have sent us an opening statement which I will not ask you to read out. We will certainly put that into the record. I think the points to do with small parties and Hayden Phillips on the one hand and to do with the honour system on the other will probably come up in question. The other point is a rather more detailed technical point which I think you take and the Committee will consider.

SIR PAUL JUDGE: Yes, it is one that is not usually covered in things of this nature. It has been mentioned several times over the years but the previous governments of the day have never actually taken the action that is suggested.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: On the face of it, it does seem to be an anomaly so we will certainly look at that.

As you would expect we have a number of questions; some to do with donations, expenditure, state funding, and so on but I will start with some more general questions. A lot of what we are doing is based on the main parties but whatever we do it is important it makes sense and is fair and reasonable for small parties so it is very useful that you have come along with that perspective. What is your general view of the current state of party political financing of the current regime in the UK?

ROBIN TILBROOK: So far as the general state of party finance is concerned I think it is probably linked to the general health of the main political parties. I was born in the late 1950s and we had a Conservative Party which had 2.5 million paid up members. It is now claiming membership of about 300,000 but if you look at their accounts the amount of money they are actually receiving from subscriptions would suggest a much smaller number of paid up members than that and that is almost certainly the largest membership party of all. What is happening is partly a product of the fact that the main political parties have moved away from engagement with what the public actually wants.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: Why do you think that might be?

ROBIN TILBROOK: I think they become more and more remote from what people want on the street and the fact is that the system does encourage that remoteness. There is not much of a link between public support and financial health of the political party and obviously the more money the party receives from the state the worse that is going to be.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: One thing about a political party is not only that it has policies but if it wants to implement them then it needs to get into power and like any good business it needs to connect with its electorate. It is strange that it should have become so remote.

ROBIN TILBROOK: Another bit of evidence of the remoteness is the increasing numbers of people that simply do not bother to vote. That process will be progressively worse if the parties continue down the direction they are currently going. One of my great fears about the process of trying to increase regulation over fundraising is that this is going to be used as an opportunity to gerrymander the funding of political parties which might pose a competition for the main parties. I do not want to see a situation like we have in Belgium where the establishment parties use the funding system to make life as difficult as possible for the Flemish Nationalists.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: We might explore that in more detail in a moment. Paul?

SIR PAUL JUDGE: Yes, I agree with all that Robin has said. I think the issues of political funding are part of the wider symptom of people’s disinterest in politics, especially political parties. They do not want to give to these organisations. They will give to charities but they do not have an imagery of political parties as entities that they wish to give to. Even major parties have subscriptions of £10 or £15 a year - 1 DVD sort of thing - but people are not even prepared to pay that amount. So I think it is part of the wider lack of interest and I think the issue of non-voting - less than two-thirds in the general election - to find a way that that 40+% of people are also represented is absolutely key to getting a more vigorous democracy.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: So the present regime is one which is wholly dependent on donations, although there are significant amounts of public money that do go to parties. What particular problems does that create for small and in particular new small parties?

ROBIN TILBROOK: Speaking for the English Democrats those interested in getting the party up and running have obviously donated to the organisation of the party. It would be essential for small parties to be able to continue to operate for there to be no cap on what individuals within the party could give to the party. Certainly the suggestion I have seen talked about of £50,000 as a maximum cap I would regard as an attempt by the establishment parties to make it impossible to compete with them.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: Just before we look at potential reforms I am keen that this Committee understands what the impact - for good or bad - is on small parties at the moment. Are there particular reforms that you think would be right and appropriate that you see as being desirable because of legitimate interest and position of small parties?

SIR PAUL JUDGE: In terms of private funding - individuals, organisations funding - we know it is very concentrated amongst the large parties. Typically Electoral Commission will report 200-odd donations of more than £5,000; some of £500,000 or whatever. This is a very concentrated grouping across all three parties therefore one is looking for that level of donation.

It is very difficult because of the publicity issues and time given to small parties and alternative views, specifically under the Broadcasting Regulations which are based on the electorate and vote under the last equivalent election. In the 2009 European elections UKIP were given a substantial amount of coverage. They were promoted by the BBC to have similar coverage to the other parties because they got 2 million-odd votes in the previous election, and you can clearly see that it moved their share from 7% to 19% within the week that that happened. Similarly when the BNP were promoted to a higher publicity level by Helen Bowman at the BBC, they went up sufficiently and ended up with two MEPs. So I see it more as the publicity side. People do not want to give because they know it is very hard to get the exposure.

ROBIN TILBROOK: If I can just come back from there. I would fully support that. I do not think the problem is the ability to raise money; I would regard that as part and parcel of the whole inevitable situation as to what would happen for a smaller party. But it is true that the possible impact that the small party might be able to make is not based upon the policies that it is putting forward or the approach it is adopting; it is based on other rules around the broadcasting and the way the media operates.

There is a rule that none of the newspapers will accept an advert from a political party except at full card rate whereas if you were trying to advertise nappies you would be able to get a similar advert for very much less.

SIR PAUL JUDGE: That is related to the rules because if they were to give a discount they could be accused of giving a benefit in kind or a benefit in cash indeed to the relevant party. I have discussed the publicity issue with senior people at the BBC - the Director General, the Political Director, etc - and they realise that they do not represent the 40% of people who do not vote but they have not been able to find a formula by which they could activate the other views; whether it is Question Time or the other similar programmes which the BBC run. They are very much locked in to this “looking backwards” system rather than looking forward despite the fact that one of their objectives is innovation in the Royal Charter.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: In this context if you look at the last 40, 50 years it has been very clearly a process of power moving away from the two main parties and you see that both in terms of the percentage of the vote they get but also in the plethora of new parties that have been able to emerge and sustain themselves.

SIR PAUL JUDGE: Certainly in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland there is truth to that because the political situation has changed; nationalism has become stronger so people like Plaid Cymru, SNP have obviously done well in those areas. Within England there has been very little other than UKIP and to some extent more recently the BNP, each of which are essentially single-issue parties. We do not have a vigorous democracy in the terms of new parties being encouraged by the total plethora of rules that there are such as publicity. If only three car manufacturers were allowed to advertise their cars on television then probably the sale of those cars would continue to outstrip the sales of the other cars.

ROBIN TILBROOK: I think there is an actual advertising strategy from big businesses to advertise in order to try and raise the hurdle so the small businesses cannot come into that area of the market. In a sense what we have at the moment is something along those lines but it is done by regulation.

SIR PAUL JUDGE: In the commercial world many changes in market share and whatever it is happen because of companies coming from abroad and that is intrinsically not possible with political parties because they would not be acceptable for quite reasonable reasons. So in fact the commercial idea does not work and there has to be other real encouragements to get new views in.

ROBIN TILBROOK: It is true that the proportion of the electorate that are voting for the two or three main parties has been going down but that has not affected their power as such when elected because as we saw with the last Blair general election he got a historic landslide majority with the votes of 21.6% of the electorate.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: I think you take us into areas which are perhaps beyond the remit of this Committee. I suppose the basic reason we are here is because there are widespread concerns about what might be labelled the big donor culture of financial parties. Do you perceive that to be a problem? And if so a problem in reality or a problem of perception only?

SIR PAUL JUDGE: It is undoubtedly a problem firstly of perception. There is no question that all the surveys about trust in politics show that this is an issue where the public believes the system to be corrupt. There has been quite a lot of fuel to encourage that view. The issue with Bernie Ecclestone and Mosley on the advertising on cars; the times when the House of Lords Appointments Commission has turned down various people; the times when things have not been reported properly, both by MPs, the Mayor of London and others. So there have been plenty of newspaper stories in the last five or ten years which would make the average person be rather suspicious of this whole process so I think there is no question in terms of public perception.

In terms of the reality I think we have a pretty uncorrupted system but because of the power which does lie with the governing party in particular it is very hard to know to what extent any influence may be arising because we have very few checks and balances. I do not think there is any example of corruption in a pure sense but donations to parties I think there is some evidence, certainly shown through the honours system - the House of Lords issue which I mentioned in the paper - that money does talk in terms of those appointments. And if it does talk in terms of those appointments then it may talk in other ways.

As well as sitting here in my current role 15 years ago I was Director General of the Conservative Party and I handled all this stuff. I remember well when John Major was Prime Minister there was considerable sleaze around at the time. But I have to say that I never found a single example of policy being perverted in any way. There was a very strict Chinese Wall. I cannot speak now to that but the treasurer’s department, as it then was, operated in extreme secrecy - perhaps too much secrecy - but certainly the politicians were not told where the money was coming from.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: In the absence of any clear evidence of actual wrongdoing, would you accept the argument the present arrangement with large donors certainly creates the scope for it to be a problem? I think you have already said it certainly creates the perception that there is a problem and that the existence of the scope and the perception is enough to mean we have to do something. We cannot really duck it simply on the grounds there is no evidence of actual wrongdoing.

SIR PAUL JUDGE: I completely agree. It is a poison in the political system, there is no doubt. And because the public generally do not want to give to political parties, they have ended up with this very small number who finance very large parts of the political activity.

OLIVER HEALD: I was going to ask Sir Paul: one of the things we are looking at is what the motivation of donors might be. You are in a good position to comment on that because you have been a major donor to the Conservative Party; no doubt you are funding the Jury Team to an extent and of course you are also a charitable benefactor having set up the Judge Business School and other projects. Do you want to comment on what your own motivation has been at particular times and also your experience of other donors who you know well?

SIR PAUL JUDGE: I do believe the honours element is quite important and when one looks at the list of past donors to both of the major parties it seems quite clear that they have advanced in those terms over the years. Certainly the treasurers of the Conservative Party have traditionally become Lords, for instance, and obviously on the Labour side, Lord Levy is a well-known example in an equivalent position, and indeed a number of the Liberal Democrat major donors are now in the Lords. I think that has become a real issue which is why I mentioned it in my opening statement just to make sure it was covered.

I do not think they do it for political reasons in the sense of wishing to get a policy adopted, and this is the other side of the coin. I mentioned the Ecclestone case, and that perhaps is a bit less certain in those terms, but I think generally I do not think the people are trying to specifically get a policy in place but they may be wishing to get access to ministers or shadow-ministers and to try and get a point across. Quite often on an industry basis, whether it is private equity or healthcare or whatever it may be, and that is then very dangerous I think because governments can be accused of moving their policies in a broad sense. Not to help a particular individual but certainly to help a business area with which that individual is concerned and, therefore, by extension eventually to help the individual.

ROBIN TILBROOK: I have a slightly different view on some of the points that Paul has made. On the question of corruption I do not fully accept that our system is corrupt in the sense of bribes, and so on. I do think it is corrupt in another sense inasmuch as it is not a very democratic system and that the corruption that people regard as a corruption or debasement is the fact that political parties they feel simply cannot be trusted to live up to their manifestos. Therefore in effect the corruption that people are complaining about is that the politicians are lying about things and not being honest and honourable about the policies that they put forward in elections and they are not delivering on those.

The nearest we get to corruption in a sense of money changing hands that concerns people is the question of appointments to the House of Lords. Personally I am not concerned if other honours were being sold. The question about the House of Lords is the most important one because they are members of our legislature and, therefore, their system of becoming members of the upper chamber I think your average American would think we are nuts to have people appointed to the Lords on the basis of either past political involvement or having made a large contribution to the ruling party.

SIR PAUL JUDGE: If I may clarify, the take he then describes which is the inherent corruption in the way we do politics, I entirely agree with - the manifestos is the classic example - but that is not, in my mind, linked to the funding question; it is just the way we have to be now.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: In the House of Lords what you suggested in your opening statement was that if someone had donated more than £50,000 over 5 years that they would not be eligible. What of the point that there may be individuals who, through their experience and career, have got much to offer the House of Lords but they are also successful and wealthy and they donate, because you really want to preclude them?

SIR PAUL JUDGE: Then they would be candidates to be appointed by the Appointments Commission; not candidates to be appointed by the party leaders.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: So does that suggest there might be an alternative route to dealing with this problem which would be all such appointments would be by that committee and they could look at recommendations from parties but in sanctioning an appointment would need to state publicly - in the case of somebody who had made a bit donation - that this appointment would certainly have been made in the absence of the donation.

SIR PAUL JUDGE: And, as in most cases of the Appointments Commission, they would sit as a crossbencher might be another provision. But I think it needs to be separated from the political leaders because that is where the inherent perception of corruption is.

ROBIN TILBROOK: Our position would be slightly different because we would like to see the House of Lords fully elected.

SIR PAUL JUDGE: That is a further development.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: Again you are slightly outside our remit. I would like to move on to some of the specific ideas for reform. As background to that could answer some background questions about your respective organisations, in particular what size you are and what sort of party membership and how much money do you get and from what sorts of sized donations, just so we have a feel for where you are coming from.

ROBIN TILBROOK: We have currently got a membership of just under 3,500 and I would say the subscriptions just runs the administration of the party. It is not sufficient for the number of leaflets that would be needed in terms of campaigning or paying for party election broadcasts to be made, and so on.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: So for that you are entirely dependent on donations?

ROBIN TILBROOK: We are, yes.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: And they run at what sort of level in recent years?

ROBIN TILBROOK: I am in some difficultly in saying exactly because I have not ever really done the books but I think speaking personally I have probably put in something like £150,000 into the party. I should think there are several others who have put in getting towards £50,000 and there are probably quite a number of others who put in £10,000 to £20,000.

SIR PAUL JUDGE: We have much smaller party membership of a few hundred because, knowing the difficulties of doing that, we approached it in a different way. But I made a donation of £50,000 to kick the thing off. I have also made some loans to the party. We have had one or two donations in the tens of thousands and then quite a few of £5, £10, £15, £20, £50 level.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: Okay, that is helpful. One proposal that Hayden Phillips talked about and a number of people giving evidence to us have referred to is the potential for a donation cap, for example, of £50,000. Some have talked about much more restricted levels down to perhaps £1,000 or £2,000. What are your views on those two very different levels of donation cap?

SIR PAUL JUDGE: We, in our policy statements, supported the Hayden Phillips ideas. He had done a lot of work and talked to everybody. You can play around with the figures but it is as good a number as any. I think £50,000 is a reasonable number. That is not going to be sufficient to influence almost any major policy decision but it is a fair amount for somebody to give. We already have reporting requirements above £7,500 for central gifts and so anything above £7,500 would be reported and a cap of £50,000.

One semi-technical point: it is not very clear from the Hayden Phillips report what is meant by £50,000. Does that mean per year or per parliament or per five years? I think clarity as to what one was actually talking about would be helpful. But he proposed that it comes in from 2012. Unfortunately the other parties have not been able to agree those recommendations. When we made that, looking at his report, it was fuelled by the cash for peerages issue in 2006 and he was dealing essentially with only the major parties. He really did not mention the minor parties. It is not perceived to be a problem for the extremely obvious reason that the minor parties do not have any power so there is no point in influencing them because it is not going to get you very far.

So when we wrote it we said the Hayden Phillips report recommendations on capping donations to political parties which received government funding should be accepted and enforced. So you want to do it for the ones where there is possibility of policy influence either through being in government or the individual MPs. But for new parties I think the need to encourage new ideas overrides that so if somebody wants to have a go, like James Goldsmith did 20 years ago with the Referendum Party, then I do not think that should be stopped because if you had a £50,000 cap on a new party it could be very difficult to get going.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: So your borderline for coming within that cap would be receipt of state funding?

SIR PAUL JUDGE: Or some similar measure but that seems to be a pretty clear measure.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: When you say that for those in receipt of public funding that a cap of £50,000 sounds about right, as you say, Hayden Phillips might not have been very clear but what do you mean by that? Do you mean £50,000 per annum or £50,000 within 1 parliament?

SIR PAUL JUDGE: I would have thought within one parliament because most people do make a single donation. It is fairly rare for people to make two big donations. There are exceptions like David Sainsbury but it is comparatively rare.

ROBIN TILBROOK: I think I would be against that actually. I do not think there ought to be a cap and I think that what we are in danger of having here is an attempt to block off competition. I think the motivation of not having overseas donations from the Commonwealth was introduced by the Labour government with the primary aim of trying to make life difficult for Lord Ashcroft to give money to the Conservative Party and I regard that as a fundamentally corrupt way of thinking about politics. It is a gerrymandering type of idea and I think the talk of having a limit of £50,000 is more about trying to block off, for instance, UKIP being a threat than it is about trying to clear up public life in this country.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: A limit of £50,000, absent any other change which we will come back to, would very substantially reduce the funding of both the major parties.

ROBIN TILBROOK: It would also very substantially reduce the chances of any other party becoming a threat to the main parties. What the main parties would undoubtedly do if there were a limit to donations is that they would take more money off the taxpayer.

SIR PAUL JUDGE: Which highlights the point about the government funding of parties or some distinction of existing parties with some form of power against the parties which are not yet in that position.

ROBIN TILBROOK: And of course if they were taking more money off the taxpayer the whole problem of parties not sticking to their word in terms of the manifesto and becoming detached from what ordinary voters want would be far worse.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: Forgive me if this is wrong but supposing the regime that Sir Paul has described was in place, is it not the case that the two main parties would see a very substantial reduction in funding absent, as I say, other changes, but under those rules your own party would not be affected?

ROBIN TILBROOK: If what Sir Paul says was implemented that would be correct but I have to say my trust that that would be what would happen would be very limited because I think the parties who were being asked to regulate themselves by the way they dealt with the legislation, it would be too tempting a target to have the opportunity to block off all competition.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: In terms of what this Committee might recommend - and this is entirely hypothetical - if it were that there should be a donation cap of £50,000 but that it would not apply until such time as a party was in receipt of state funding, would that not allay your concerns that this was just being used as a way to see off new competition?

ROBIN TILBROOK: If that was what happened then obviously I would not have the same concern. I think the average person on the street would still have a great deal of concern at the idea that the funding gap would be made up from milking the taxpayer for more money for those political parties. If money is removed from one area of funding it has to be found somewhere else, and if that is the taxpayers’ picking that up, I think that would be fundamentally wrong.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: Sir Paul, if we had such a regime with a cap it clearly would cut in half current funding for the major parties; it could easily do that. How would you see that problem being addressed in the regime that you propose?

SIR PAUL JUDGE: Hopefully it will be part of re-establishing trust with the political parties which is a long-term project of which this is one aspect of the work that you are doing. But it is important that people do have faith in the political parties because they generally are not corrupt but nevertheless the perception is that they are and, therefore, people do not want to give to them. By making them appear more wholesome and taking away this continuing series of criticisms about funding then that is likely to encourage more people to give and from a much wider base. If you could get 10,000 people to give £1,000 that is £10 million so that will fill the gap.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: Would you, perhaps in the future, see increased state funding as part of the solution?

SIR PAUL JUDGE: Norman Fowler, then Party Chairman, presented the Home Affairs Select Committee in 1994; this was a question that was then being addressed. I have never personally thought it was a good idea mainly because the electorate are absolutely against it and every opinion poll has said, “We do not want our tax money supporting ‘that lot’” to put it in vernacular terms.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: Mr Tilbrook, if we were to accept the argument that there should not be a cap on donations for the reasons you have said how then should we, as a society, try to deal with what I think we all agree is certainly a perception that big donors can and do buy access, maybe influence and perhaps honours?

ROBIN TILBROOK: I do not think it is the sense of policy, and so on being bought that is the point most people are concerned about. It is that fact that the main parties are not trusted to deliver on what they say they are going to do in elections. The "populist positioning policies" that parties come up with in the run-up to an election, which they have no intention of implementing, that is the area which I think people are increasingly concerned with and it is the area that has led to a dramatic drop in the numbers of people willing to join political parties. People join political parties because they want to do something about politics; they are not going to give money to a political party even if they think it is not in any way corrupt simply because of the lack of financial corruption. I think people who get involved with politics want to achieve something. The lack of accountability of politicians once elected is a severe problem I think. I think the proposal of recall would actually do more to address that than any amount of tinkering with regulation of what funding political parties could have.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: In effect you see the problem and, therefore, the solution in a rather different dimension.


SIR DEREK MORRIS: Thank you. David?

DAVID PRINCE: Thank you. Can I talk about expenditure? You said you were broadly in favour of the Hayden Phillips’ recommendations which did talk about reducing and capping expenditure. Are you in favour of expenditure caps and do you think they should be reduced even further? A lot of people have suggested to us that parties spend more than they need to for campaigning and there is scope for a substantial cutback in party spending.

SIR PAUL JUDGE: For the general election there is a limit in the order of £20 million which is not unreasonable. We are very fortunate that we do not have broadcast political advertising because that is what perverts it in America and a number of other countries. Because of that the capability to spend is comparatively lower than the billion dollars that would be spent on a presidential candidate, etc.

The issue of newspaper and poster advertising having to be at full cost does cause problems and if the Electoral Commission or others could agree that it has to be a commercial rate but it does not have to be a full cost rate, that would indeed bring expenditure down on posters and newspaper advertising and things like that which would help everybody.

Away from general elections for by-elections the limits are still pretty complex. I think they could be simplified but I do not think the actual quantum is going to make much difference to anybody. There is complexity between the party and the candidate and who is spending what. It is just a pain to fill in all the various forms basically. But I do not feel that there is a strong need to make big changes on the expenditure side other than those.

ROBIN TILBROOK: The only area that I perhaps flag up in response is the expenditure on by-elections. We have not done a huge amount in by-elections apart from using the Royal Mail free delivery in a parliamentary by-election and our results in by-elections mostly show that, to be fair. The fact is that the main parties do spend a tremendous amount of money on the by-elections and they are allowed to, of course, by the rules and people who are subjected to a by-election get enormously fed up with vast amounts of leaflets being stuffed through their letterbox and people hammering on the door at all sorts of hours. People get absolutely fed up with the whole thing and having more restriction on what could be spent on by-elections probably would reduce some of the ridiculous amounts of impact that ordinary residents have to put up with when there is a by-election.

DAVID PRINCE: Some people have said to us there should be a substantial shift; that people should be allowed to spend a great deal more at local level but I am not hearing either of you suggesting that.

SIR PAUL JUDGE: We know that both the major parties have said they hope to reach the marginal voters seven times during the election. As we know our MPs do not change very much, even when there appears to be great swings. It is most unusual for 20% or more to actually lose a seat. For 80% once you are there and you wish to stay, you are there for as long as you like. Therefore in those 20% of the constituencies there is typically 10% or 20% of targetable floating voters. So if it is 10%, you have got 10% of 20%. That is 2% of the 45 million electorate so those 900,000 voters - poor people - get bombarded with stuff. I do not know of a way in which you could easily regulate that because during a general election it is all happening so fast but it is a consideration. A big chunk of the money goes to a very small number and the posters are put up obviously in the marginal constituencies. It is all perfectly legitimate but the concentration now with all the computer-aided postcode targeting is so strong that it is just a consideration. I need somebody to think through how that could be dealt with but much of that money goes on a very small number of the voters.

ROBIN TILBROOK: As a suggestion there could be a limit on what could be spent in each constituency. We have the national figure but you could not spend more than a certain amount on that one constituency.

SIR PAUL JUDGE: The practical difficulty is that most of that is targeted from the party headquarters; not by the local campaign constituency headquarters.

ROBIN TILBROOK: Paul is absolutely right that if you are unlucky enough to be in a marginal, you do get bombarded, particularly if you are thought to be a potential swing voter in a general election. That is more of an annoyance rather than a useful way of encouraging engagement in politics.

DAVID PRINCE: Sir Paul, I think you indicated earlier on regarding advertising rates that at least the full cost rate does guard against any perception or reality of benefits in kind. I suppose commercial rate would be much more difficult to regulate and control. There is a balance to be struck there, is there not?

SIR PAUL JUDGE: There would and that is why the newspapers go to that extreme because then they cannot be criticised. But as the many marketing matrixes show what the cost per thousand was, if you have the advertisement for the washing powder on the left page and the XYZ Party on the right page they should be broadly similar. Clearly if you gave the political away for almost nothing then that would be a benefit in kind but the measure really should be the commercial rate. I happen to be the President of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and everybody knows that the price that is on the card is never the price that anybody pays in the advertising industry.

ROBIN TILBROOK: We regularly use a broker who sets up our advertising. When he first got involved with us he was absolutely amazed to find we were having to pay multiples of what he would normally expect to be charged for a similar type of advert. It is actually quite a punitive difference.

SIR PAUL JUDGE: Just a thought that came to me: it could be at a charity rate or something like that might be a way of having it.

DAVID PRINCE: It is an interesting point and not one I think that we have had put to us before which is why I wanted to come back to it. May I move on to state funding. Do you receive any form of state funding at the moment?


DAVID PRINCE: Do you have a view on the unfairness of that given your relative size and the arrangements that are now in place?

ROBIN TILBROOK: I think actually when I said no to that question the caveat would have to be put in that of course we do get the free delivery of the Royal Mail - that is a subsidy in effect - and also not having to pay for the party election broadcasts which is another subsidy in another way because it is basically a free advert, is it not? You have to pay for the production of it but you do get a free advert. We only get the one if we qualify as opposed to the establishment parties which are more likely to get quite a number of them. One would have to say there is a little element of subsidy already but not as much as is available to the bigger parties. Apart from that we do not get any other subsidy at all.

SIR PAUL JUDGE: That is clearly true for us as well, yes.

DAVID PRINCE: Just to be clear, are either or both of you ideologically opposed to increased state funding or do you think the funding reforms can be carried out in ways that do not involve it and it is undesirable from an electoral point of view?

ROBIN TILBROOK: I would not class it as purely ideological. I think most people are very hostile to the idea of still more funding. Whenever I have talked about the amount of funding that the establishment parties already get people are generally absolutely furious to learn of the kind of money they are getting. I think if they thought there was going to be more money that would encourage still more people to be furious with the way the system operates rather than to engage with it which is the premise on which we have been discussing reforms, is it not? It would not improve public engagement; it would make people more fed up with the current system.

SIR PAUL JUDGE: The state funding at the moment is probably more than the average person believes but I am sure your research staff have given you the various polls and things which show people are much against the idea. If it were to be extended though it would have to be extended on the basis of the electorate; not the voters. If it is just to bolster those who already have power and influence then I think that would be entirely wrong. At the moment the formula relates to number of MPs and number of votes and the short money and things like that. It does not provide any money for the 40% of the electorate who did not vote. If there were to be a pot of £10 million if you add everything together, if that represents those who voted in the general election, one would think there would be another £6 or £7 million for the people who did not vote which perhaps the Electoral Commission or someone of that nature would distribute amongst the other parties.

DAVID PRINCE: What are your views on a gift aid approach; tax relief such as gift aid? Would that make it more acceptable to channel more state funding in? Do you think it is worth the effort?

SIR PAUL JUDGE: From a pure point of view it is proper that there be gift aid in a sense because it ceases to be your income is the same argument that has existed for 300 years on charities. You get your income, you give some of it away to a charity, then it is not your income so you should not be taxed on it is essentially the base point and I see no reason why that should not apply for political donations as well. There could be a difficulty with higher rate tax so it might have to be limited to lower rate tax otherwise it would look like the rich were getting more influence again, etc. But if it was limited to lower rate tax it would be a more acceptable form of state funding because it would be following the money rather than following the number of MPs or number of votes.

ROBIN TILBROOK: I would start from the perspective that gift aid was not actually state funding. It is a giving up of some of the tax take, which is not quite the same as state funding, if I understand what you mean by gift aid correctly, so I would not be opposed to that at all. I think that would be a useful thing to happen. Going back to the question earlier about state funding we have to bear in mind the fairly appalling example of the way Belgium operates its rules on political parties. Its manipulation of the state funding rules and also capping private donations which establishment parties use to try and cut off competition; in this case the Flemish Nationalists. Because they are challenging the idea of Belgium they are then regularly finding they are being told they are no longer recognised as a political party and therefore do not receive any state funding. And their rule is now that you are not allowed to give any money to a political party so the only way a political party can get funding is by state funding. So you have, in effect, a manipulation by the Belgium establishment to try and prevent democratic political expression of views that they do not approve of.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: If there is a document you can send us with some detail on that it would be very useful. Denise?

DAME DENISE PLATT: I want to turn to the regulatory framework. As small parties what is your view of the current framework?

SIR PAUL JUDGE: It is not bad. We fill in our forms for the Electoral Commission. They are still all rather higgledy-piggledy; the date is written in different ways on different forms and nobody has ever gone through it and tried to make it easy to fill in. I think that is one thing. The categories of expenditure cause a lot of problems because they are different for by-elections, general elections and annual accounts. There is absolutely no reason for them to be different; it wastes a lot of accounting time recoding everything and for small parties that is a real pain. I have already mentioned the reporting of by-elections and the anomaly and that is because the PPRA 2000 Act is fairly clear but the candidate part of it stems from an earlier Act and it has never been put together. If one compares it with the Charity Commission, which is broadly a similar thing, it is probably no worse.

DAME DENISE PLATT: Okay, it could be a bit more coherent.

ROBIN TILBROOK: I agree that it is not coherent in that you have forms from the Electoral Commission and also forms from the Returning Officers; they do not match each other in any sense. I personally regard it as a bureaucratic rigmarole that actually does not really achieve very much. It is not particularly painful to comply with it once you know that you have to but what does it actually achieve? I think that is rather difficult to say.

SIR PAUL JUDGE: The Northern Ireland question: you have to report separately for Northern Ireland. We do not do anything in Northern Ireland so we just do a nil return but for accounting and all the rest of the annual accounts it all has to be done twice. Assuming we believe the peace settlement in Northern Ireland is now with us it seems to me that there is no reason why the Northern Ireland aspect should be a completely separate register. We do not do that for Scotland or Wales. It was done because there are different disclosure requirements because people were worried that if somebody gave £10,000 to a party somebody might come around and shoot them and all that sort of thing. But assuming we believe that is now gone then it seems to me totally duplicative to have a separate register for Northern Ireland.

ROBIN TILBROOK: I thought there was a rule on foreign donations in order to keep Sinn Fein on board.

SIR PAUL JUDGE: Yes, you can donate from Ireland to Northern Ireland. You cannot donate from Ireland to Great Britain.

DAME DENISE PLATT: Yes, we have been and taken evidence in Northern Ireland. So what you say is not unfamiliar from things that we have heard. The issue about the Returning Officer documentation and the Electoral Commission documentation: we have received evidence from Returning Officers who feel that there should be one set of documentation that goes straight to the Electoral Commission online. Would that be something you might support?

ROBIN TILBROOK: On the basis of where we are at the moment some of our candidates would need somebody else to file that for them because they would not be online and I suspect that would be true of all political parties in the end. Somebody would have to do it. If you have bureaucracy within the political party of election agents, and so on then maybe they would support that but if it had to be online as a rule then I think that would be a slight problem but if there was the system that you could do it online and you could post it in, then that would ensure that even those candidates without agents or internet access could still do it.

SIR PAUL JUDGE: Yes, online should be an option but not compulsory but I think the majority would do it but there will always be exceptions and I think sending it to the Electoral Commission makes a lot more sense than sending it to the Returning Officer who really has no idea because these things happen so rarely. It is meaningless for them to have it.

DAME DENISE PLATT: That brings me to my next question: we have received evidence that the regulatory burden about reporting donations and expenditure is too onerous for small parties.

SIR PAUL JUDGE: These small parties must have huge numbers of donations so they are very lucky I guess!

DAME DENISE PLATT: You do not have enough to make it onerous?

SIR PAUL JUDGE: Sadly we do not have that problem!

DAME DENISE PLATT: We have also heard that parties without central compliance functions feel disadvantaged. It all comes down to the definition of small though, does it not?

SIR PAUL JUDGE: Yes, if it could be simplified and make the candidate, the by-election, the general election, the European election and the normal running all using the same codes and things, that would make it much, much easier.

ROBIN TILBROOK: It would probably be helpful if there was an effort to stand back a bit and try and work out what actually needs to be reported and what is just bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo to make life difficult. Very small parties are going to find that it is onerous. Once you start to have people volunteering to be the treasurer then at that point it might not be quite such a problem.

DAME DENISE PLATT: Do either of your parties have a compliance officer?

ROBIN TILBROOK: We have a party treasurer.

SIR PAUL JUDGE: We have an auditor obviously.

DAME DENISE PLATT: What changes would you like to see to the regulatory framework in addition to simplifying it?

SIR PAUL JUDGE: I think having an Electoral Commission is a good thing, like having a Charity Commission is a good thing. It should just be made as user friendly as it can be.

ROBIN TILBROOK: The problem I see with the Electoral Commission is we have this fairly expensive structure but it has virtually no teeth. If you have a problem, for example, with the returning officer being awkward about something, you ring up the Electoral Commission and they say, “They should not be doing that but we cannot do anything about it”. We have a website run by a UKIP supporter which calls itself the English Democratic Party. There is no such registered party and because there is no such registered party the Electoral Commission says, “We cannot do anything about it”. I think it is probably rather expensive and not really achieving a great deal but I think part of the reason why it was introduced was partly about transferring power from the local parts of the party to the centre. So we now have a single national nominating officer and that means that local parties can no longer get their own candidate forced through against the wishes of the centre of the party.

DAME DENISE PLATT: So that is power over how local elections are run; more power than currently?

ROBIN TILBROOK: For instance, if we had a coherent election administration system where returning officers were part of the Electoral Commission system you have then some organisation nationally that is holding the election system to account. That obviously would be of some use and you would not get different practices occurring in all sorts of different parts of the country, and when you have a question of impartiality of how an election was being run locally you have an organisation that can easily step in.

DAME DENISE PLATT: And somewhere to make a complaint.

ROBIN TILBROOK: Yes, and you would have some independent body whose job it was to run elections.

DAME DENISE PLATT: Okay, thank you very much.

SIR DEREK MORRIS: Is there anything you want to say to us that has not been elicited by our questions before we close? Right, thank you very much for coming along. That concludes this hearing and indeed our hearings for the day.

My Evidence to the Kelly Commission on Political Funding

I was asked to give evidence to the Kelly commission. This is the one which has just recommended a raft of measures which would give the Establishment yet more of our money!


When I and Sir Paul Judge attended the committee, the acting Chairman asked me to get verification of what I was saying about the Belgian situation. I have therefore had it verified by Vlaams Belang.

Mr Tomas Verachtert, Vlaams Belang's information officer has confirmed the following:-


The Belgian Establishment has restricted raising Party funding by private donations and has then manipulated state funding to attack the democratic rights of those that challenge the Belgian State’s legitimacy.

In national identity terms Belgium is split between the Flemings and the Walloons (French speaking). Belgium exists as a state because the 19th Century imperialist powers created it as a buffer to contain France and so it was created without regard to the Nationalist aspirations of the people thus unwillingly corralled.

In 2004 the predecessor of Vlaams Belang, Vlaams Block, the leading Flemish Nationalist Party, was “convicted” of violating a Belgian “anti-racism” law after its political opponents had made drastic changes to the relevant legislation to redefine “racism” to include any expression of Flemish Nationalism. What the Belgium Government in effect did is to blatantly adjust the legislation in such a way that they could have Vlaams Blok condemned.

The initial trial, that ended in 2004, led to Vlaams Block being heavily fined and thus financially crippled, as no private funding could be received to pay the fine. Vlaams Block therefore ceased operation and a successor was created -Vlaams Belang.

In May 2006 the Walloon Parties (French speaking) and the Flemish Socialists and Greens started a legal procedure against Vlaams Belang party on the grounds of them being “racist”. Their aim is to deprive Vlamms Belang of government party funding. If successful, this would cost Vlaams Belang 2 million euros p.a. and make it financially unviable.

This latest process was formally legally initiated in October 2006, by the Belgian “Council of State”. Half the members of the General Assembly of the State Council (which will decide whether state funding will be cut off or not) is French-speaking, and many of them are also politically appointed or have clear ties to a Belgian Establishment political party.

Vlaams Belang have been fighting the whole procedure by challenging all French-speaking judges on suspicion of bias. These challenges have not yet been dealt with, but have now been extended to all judges of socialist leanings. Recently a “Commissioner of Audit” has judged that the prosecutors must produce evidence that anti-racism laws have been violated 60 days before the suit was filed. Nevertheless Vlaams Belang’s opponents are proceeding with their legal proceedings.

The effect of this cynical manipulation of democratic norms is to undermine not only the democratic legitimacy of the Belgian State itself but also to illegitimately politicise the Belgian Judiciary."

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Polls show Muslims now more 'British' than the English!

Today we have some very interesting and, from the point of view of English Nationalists, highly encouraging newspaper reports. This is because there has been a YouGov opinion poll which shows that the tide of Englishness is surging whilst support for Britishness is being washed away even in its former safe haven of England.
Here is a link to the poll itself >>>

The Yougov poll results were commented about on the front page of the Scotsman's Sunday newspaper, Scotland on Sunday, which said:-
"English move away from being British - Calls for an English parliament are growing
By Eddie Barnes
Published on Sunday 20 November 2011 00:00

THE British identity is in steep decline south of the border with the number of people who would describe themselves as English over British soaring, a poll has revealed.

The study found that the number of people in England who would now describe themselves as English rather than British rose to 63 per cent, as opposed to 41 per cent in 2008.

The YouGov poll also discovered that just 20 per cent of the UK population preferred a British identity to any other, down from 42 per cent three years ago.

The poll, taken last month, appears to show that English nationalism is on the rise at the same time as Scottish nationalism is the predominant force in politics north of the border.

It prompted warnings of a shift that could threaten the Union.

The findings were last night seized on by campaigners for a separate English Parliament as further evidence that there was now a major social shift developing across the country.

And John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, said that a weakening of “Britishness” in England could have massive repercussions for the future of the Union.

He said: “Adherence to a common sense of ‘Britishness’ is often thought to be a vital part of the emotional glue that helps keep the Union together. That glue has long since lost much of its strength in Scotland. If it has now been eroded in England too, the long term prospects for the Union would seem rather bleak indeed.”

The SNP said that the figures showed there was a desire for a new “equal relationship” between Scotland and England, with the nations standing on their own.

The figures in the new YouGov poll on English and British identity are a marked change on previous polling undertaken in recent years.

Of 1,700 adults around Britain, 2 per cent said they were “mainly” European, 19 per cent said British, 1 per cent said Irish, 5 per cent Welsh, 8 per cent Scottish and 63 per cent said English. In 2008, asked which best described how people felt about themselves, 42 per cent said British, 1 per cent said Irish, 4 per cent Welsh, 8 per cent Scottish and 41 per cent said English.

The new poll, published in this month’s Prospect magazine, was carried out as part of a wider study on British attitudes to Europe.

It was claimed last night that the increase in ‘Englishness has been fuelled in part by resentment about perceived Scottish “freebies”, especially concerning university tuition fees, soon to rise to £9,000 a year south of the border.

Calls for an English “parliament” are growing. Labour MP Frank Field has now laid down a parliamentary motion calling for the pros and cons of such a devolved chamber to be examined.

Eddie Bone of the Campaign for an English Parliament said: “People may not understand the Barnett Formula (which provides the block funding grant to Scotland), but they understand the issue of prescription charges, elderly care, NHS cuts and particularly tuition fees. There is a real feeling among young people in England now that they are being treated very badly. ”

He added: “What is coming out is that more and more people identify themselves as English and that they are subsidising the rest of the UK.”

SNP Ministers have pointed out that Scotland generates more tax revenues than its per capita share in an attempt to scotch the “subsidy myth”. But recent polls have shown a growing discontent in England about Scotland’s share of public spending.

Field added last night: “I was against devolution but once it went through, it seems to me the issue is unfinished. And the people being under-represented are the English, simply because they are the biggest group. I would have thought the next stage is for an English parliament, with a Federal parliament for the UK which undertakes collective action.”

Here is the link to the full story >>>

There is also this from the BBC' favourite academic commentator on Voting Trends:-

"John Curtice: Long-term prospects for ‘Britishness’ appear weak
By John Curtice
Published on Sunday 20 November 2011

“ARE you English or British?” “Why both. What’s the difference?” Such conversations about national identity are often thought to be commonplace south of the Border. Residing in by far the largest part of the UK, people in England often talk as though Britain and England are but one and the same place.

So should we take much notice when a YouGov poll discovers that three times as many people in England say they are “mainly English” than say they are “mainly British”?

Well, adherence to a common sense of “Britishness” is often thought to be a vital part of the emotional glue that helps keep the Union together. That glue has long since lost much of its strength in Scotland. If it has now been eroded in England too, the long-term prospects for the Union would seem rather bleak indeed.

There are, though, some caveats about YouGov’s poll. When they try to find out people’s identity, polls typically ask how their respondents how they “think” or “feel” about themselves. After all, an identity is a label or badge that people apply to themselves and towards which they feel a degree of emotional attachment. Such a wording helps get at that.

In their latest poll, YouGov just asked people whether they were mainly English, British or whatever.

Such an approach might be thought to invoke a factual description rather than an identity. Yet if that were all YouGov’s poll was picking up, we would not anticipate that which description people chose would make much difference to the views they expressed on other subjects in the poll. But it did. Those who described themselves as English had a distinctly more “nationalist” outlook.

Fifty-seven per cent of them said they would vote in favour of leaving the European Union. So YouGov’s poll does seem to have picked up something of a genuine “little Englander” mood south of the Border – stimulated perhaps by the recent travails of the eurozone.

And if it is a mood that is willing to contemplate the “break-up” of the European Union, might it not be willing to consider the dissolution of the domestic Union, too?
• John Curtice is Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University

Here is the link to the full story >>>

Also the Scotsman did a "VoxPop" article:-

"Question of nationality divides Union Street
Published on Sunday 20 November 2011

ARE the English feeling less British? We visited historic Union Street in Plymouth – which connects the city centre to the Devonport naval shipyard – to find out.

Sean Lodge, 24, a medic in the Navy from Plymouth: “I describe myself as British but in future English people will be more likely to describe themselves as English. It would benefit England if Scotland were to be independent. We pay high taxes to subsidise tuition fees and cheap prescriptions in Scotland which we don’t see the benefits of.”

Kizzy Dowding, 20, a shop supervisor from Plymouth: “I describe myself as English rather than British. If Scotland wants to be independent they should go for it. Scotland has its own parliament so I don’t see why it can’t.”

George Peart, 48, a plasterer, originally from Newcastle: “I describe myself as British as it is all encompassing. Britain as a whole has its customs and traditions and I feel a sense of pride at being from Britain, not just England. Being from Newcastle I feel closer to Scotland than people living in the South. But Scots have always considered themselves to be independent.”

Vilma Glanville, 80, a retired auditor for the Ministry of Defence: “I would describe myself as English and I always have. My family are English and that’s where my heritage is. Scotland gets a lot of advantages that we don’t. They can sit in our parliament but we don’t have a say in theirs.”

Here is the link to the full story >>>

Interesting as the ongoing change in English people's idea of their national identity is, in many ways it is even more interesting to see what type of people still see themselves as British. The Daily mail, reporting another Poll, puts it this way:-

"Muslims 'are more patriotic than most British people'
British Muslims feel a greater sense of national pride than the average UK citizen, according to the results of a new poll.

While 79 per cent of the Britons quizzed said they agreed with the statement 'I am proud to be a British citizen', the figure rose to 83 per cent among Muslims.

And Muslim Britons were also found to be significantly more optimistic than most with just 31 per cent agreeing with the notion that Britain's best days are in the past compared to an average of 45 per cent.

National pride: A group of Muslim women enjoy a stroll in Regent's Park. A new survey has found Muslims to be more patriotic than the average British citizen

The figures are, to some extent, understood to reflect a reaction to the hostility and distrust felt by many British Muslims in the post 9/11 world.

There is also the belief that Muslims are more able to appreciate the political freedoms UK citizens enjoy as they can trace their family roots to far more oppressive and non-democratic regimes.

British-Pakistani boxer Amir Khan, one of the most prominent flag wavers among the nation's Muslim population, often speaks in interviews about his sense of national pride.

The poll of 2000 people, taken by the think tank Demos, was designed to find what symbolises the best of Britain.

The report found: 'This optimism in British Muslims is significant as - combined with their high score for pride in being British - it runs counter to a prevailing narrative about Muslim dissatisfaction with and in the UK.'

Perhaps the answer to this may be found in a further comment in the article:-

"Around half of people questioned for the survey said they believed Britain benefited from being a multicultural country."

Here is the link to the full story >>>

Saturday, 19 November 2011

An interview with the leader of the English Democrats

I recently did an interview for "Politics UK". Here it is:-

Friday, 11 November 2011
Black/Tilbrook - an interview with the leader of the English Democrats

1. What are your Party's 3 main policies?
The English Democrats are seeking reform of the British Constitution to create a properly functioning democracy for the People of England. Thus we are campaigning for an ‘English First Minister, Government and Parliament with at least the same powers as the Scottish ones’.
We also want to protect our nation and national culture from the EU, so we are campaigning for a referendum on coming out of the EU. We would campaign in that referendum for a vote to leave.
We also want a properly functioning border controls which prevent mass immigration and efficiently deport illegal immigrants.
Here is one of our PEBs which makes our points well. Click here>>>

2. Should smaller parties have a "vision" or a manifesto?
The English Democrats have a full manifesto which can be found here >>>

3. Should we have a referendum on the EU, if yes, when?
Yes and as soon as possible (see 1. above).

4. What is you're party's "route" into mainstream politics (eg. local elections, Scottish, Euros...)
The English Democrats fight elections throughout England whenever we can. Our first significant victory was winning the Elected Executive Mayoralty of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council. We also are now starting to win District/Borough Council elections and won tow in May. We also have several Parish/Town Councillors.

5. Would you say you are on the left, the right, the center or another third way?

The English Democrats’ slogan is that we are:-
“Not Right, not Left, just English”!

6. What is your policy on university tuition fees?
The English Democrats have always opposed the unfair discrimination against English students which the current system imposes. Click here to see a video clip we did on this >>> Students
And for a more jokey take on the same topic, click here >>>
This unfairness will be much worse next year when the tripling of the fees to £9,000 takes affect.

7. What is your own personal view on ‘benefit tourism’?
It is the duty of a properly functioning state system of politicians and bureaucrats to ensure that tax payer’s money is not wasted and is only used for the benefit of our country. This is one issue amongst many where the current system lets us all down.

8. Under your leadership, where do you see the Party in a year’s time?
I expect the English Democrats to continue to grow and to become more effective as the political campaigning arm of English Nationalism. In a few years time I hope that we shall find that English Nationalism has become the mainstream but there is no doubt that it is on the rise and part of the reason for that is our distribution of over 25 million leaflets!

9. Why should there be an English parliament?
There should be an English Parliament because it is the only fair and logically coherent response to devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Click here for a clip on this issue >>> "Why an English Parliament?"
It is so obviously the only answer that our political opponents don’t usually even try to openly argue against it. They resort to the usual political tricks of obstructionism and evasion.

10. What one thing would you change about the British political system?
The key issue for any democratic nationalist is that the political system should be the democrat i.e. voice of the nation. So I would change the British system radically to enable English Nationalism to be given a democratic forum for the expression of the sovereign will of the People of England. Garry Bushell made agood point for us in this clip >>>

Thank you for inviting me to take part.

Here is the link to the original site >>>

Sunday, 13 November 2011


The possibility of having directly elected Executive Mayors (Council Leaders) was introduced in the Local Government Act 2000.
THE UK currently has 13 directly elected mayors.
Several Mayors are Independents and are not beholden to an Establishment Party. Ken Livingstone won in London as an Independent after the Labour Party refused to endorse him. Stuart Drummond, Hartlepool United’s club mascot H’Angus the Monkey, won in 2002 on the back of a jokey campaign. He has been re-elected twice since and is doing an excellent job for his town. Former senior policeman Ray Mallon won in Middlesbrough as an Independent in 2002 and won re-election in the recent election by a landslide. The first elected mayor of Mansfield in 2002 was the Independent candidate, Tony Eggerton, who has since been re-elected in 2007; his victory led to Independents eventually being the majority on the council. The first elected mayor of Bedford was also an Independent. Other mayors have been elected from political parties not forming the majority amongst councillors.
The Choices
The choices for models of political leadership within local governance are:-
1. Elected Mayor The Mayor is directly elected by all the local authority’s voters and serves for four years. He or she would choose up to 10 councillors as cabinet members. The mayor cannot be removed from office by councillors, which makes sense as he or she was not appointed by the councillors. Advisory overview and scrutiny committees hold the mayor and cabinet to account and assist in policy development. This is the most democratic option as it gives the people the choice.
2. Strong Leader By contrast to the directly elected Mayor, the Leader is secretly elected by the councillors of the local ruling party. The Leader appoints a cabinet and has all the same powers as the Elected Mayor. As a result of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act, by 31st December 2010 councils must adopt either an “Elected Mayor” or a “Strong Leader” system. The Strong Leader system means that the Leader is appointed by the council (in reality the ruling party) for four years. The Leader is therefore beholden for his position to the largest party on the Council and so answers to them and not to the wider electorate.
This choice is the one preferred by local political elites because it gives them power over the people with the least chance of effective opposition.
3. Councillor Committees This is the old Committee system and was widely criticised as being too slow and too lacking in transparency and has now been fazed out as an option.
The Mayoral System

A directly elected Mayor can take decisions with a Cabinet (of councillors) appointed by the Mayor.

A directly elected Executive Mayor would be elected for a four year term by all residents eligible to vote in local elections.

The local authority’s “Executive” (or “Cabinet”) is made up of between three and ten councillors, including the elected Mayor. Elections for Councillors continue as normal.

Councillors have a role in the scrutiny of the Mayor’s decisions on major issues, including the council tax and major policy decisions. Committees of Councillors continue on planning, licensing and regulatory functions. In other matters the Mayor is free to decide how decisions are made, and the Mayor takes most decisions on a day to day basis instead of committees of councillors.

Councillors who are not members of the Cabinet would continue to have some important functions, including representing their local communities. They can monitor and comment on the performance of the Mayor and Cabinet – the scrutiny role referred to above.

• The Mayor provides highly visible local political leadership
• The Mayoral system provides a single, accountable leader directly responsible to the voters
• The mayoral system leads to faster decision making
• It gives the Mayor power to get policies into place quickly
• A fixed four year term ensures some continuity combined with direct accountability to voters

In Torbay the Elected Mayoral system has recently caused the Councillors to abolish the whip system as it is no longer necessary.

How to get a Mayor System for your Local Authority

The mechanism by which local authorities can move, from whichever governance system that they now operate, to the clarity of a directly elected executive mayor is by local referendum. The local referendum can be triggered:- First by the councillors voting for it (highly unlikely! – (turkeys/Christmas!); Second by the Secretary of State ordering it; Or, third, and most useful from our point of view, by a public petition. The petition threshold is surprisingly easy to cross, requiring the signatures of 5% of the registered electors. In most local authorities this is less than 5,000 signatures.

The consequences of obtaining a petition are governed by the Local Government Act 2000, which decrees that in the event that a petition validly signed by 5% of the electors calling for a referendum on a directly elected executive mayor being received by the council’s returning officer, there must, by law, be a local referendum.

If the majority of those that vote in the referendum are in favour, then there must be a directly elected mayor. The law therefore enables the vested interests of local ruling parties and councillors to be swept aside. Such petitions therefore have legal consequences which are unlike most petitions, which are merely an expression of protest by people and which are, unless they are in the interests of the ruling party, usually ignored.

Electoral Advantages

Mayoral elections are a much more of a level playing field between all candidates than the usual run of English elections where the three Establishment parties have tremendous advantages in terms of money and organization.

In Doncaster, for example, while the English Democrats had been campaigning over the previous four years we had few other advantages except a hard hitting entry in the mayoral booklet (which is sent by the local Returning Officer to every elector as part of the system of mayoral elections) Also there is the Supplementary Vote System which in Doncaster enabled us to win on second preferences. As the BBC news coverage of the election did not even mention us, or our candidate, once during the campaign it is clear that mayoral elections are winnable solely by effort on the ground (and an excellent candidate!).

In addition the result of winning a mayoral election is that, subject to the restraints of his office, the successful candidate is in power in that local authority. It follows that it is also much more practical for a small party or for an independent to gain control of a local authority through the directly elected mayoral system than any other electoral strategy. The effect of doing so is strategically important as it undermines the British Establishment parties.

Robin Tilbrook

PO Box 1066,
Norwich, NR14 6ZJ.
TEL: 0870 0624555

Speech PM Sept '10


Ladies and Gentlemen

We are the English Democrats Party and as democrats we should always be campaigning to improve how democracy works in England.

As democrats we believe in the sovereignty of our people, the sovereignty of the English Nation, rather than the old idea of the monarch in Parliament as being the sovereign.

That is why direct democracy - like having referenda on issues is very much part of our agenda.

As a lawyer, I also prefer to be involved in initiatives that have real legal teeth and using a petition to campaign for a directly elected mayor has real legal teeth.

If you get the signatures of 5% of your local authority’s electors, then there must be, by law, a referendum on having a directly elected mayor.

If the majority of the local electorate vote in favour of having a directly elected mayor, then there must be by law a directly elected mayor. So Ladies and Gentlemen our discussions now will be about our Party’s initiative to push for directly mayors throughout England.

Ladies and Gentlemen as I stand before you I can tell you that we, as a Party, have now registered our petitions with every relevant local authority in England that does not either have a directly elected mayor already, or has not conducted a referendum on it in the last 10 years. The law does not allow a second referendum within 10 years of the previous one.

This is a really exciting initiative which the English Democrats are spearheading and which could make a dramatic difference to the way local governments are run up and down the country.

We have registered with every District Council, every Borough Council, every Unitary Council, every County Council and every City Council.

Where you can run the campaign yourselves and get the signatures I would urge everyone of you to get involved. Also wherever possible encourage activists from other parties and those who are independents in local government to do likewise.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to be able to introduce our next speaker, Professor Colin Copus from the De Montfort University in Leicester.

Colin is the leading academic commentator on directly elected mayors and has written this book which I would recommend to you all.

It certainly helped broaden my understanding of what a directly elected mayoralty may be able to achieve.

Colin has come to explain some of the constitutional and political significance of what we are trying to achieve. Ladies and Gentlemen, without any more ado, will you please welcome Professor Colin Copus.

Ladies and Gentlemen, our second speaker on this important issue is our own English Democrats Mayor of Doncaster, Peter Davies. The London centric, the Financial Times, described him as “the Boris of the North”. Although I should say that Peter always likes to describe Boris Johnson as the “Peter of the South”.

Peter is here to tell us about the advantages of the mayoral system for local government and for our democracy in England.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Speech - Sept '10 am


Good Morning Ladies & Gentlemen

Welcome to Nottingham and Robin Hood country!

I am delighted to be able to greet you all on this, the 8th Annual General Meeting, since we were launched on August 20th 2002. In those 8 years this Party, and the English movement generally, have made great strides forward. I just want to take a moment or two to reflect on that because we often lose sight of what progress we have made in our quite understandable anxiety to improve further.

What we are attempting to do, Ladies and Gentlemen, is something that in its true meaning is little short of revolutionary!

We are attempting by peaceful, moderate, reasonable, legal and thoroughly democratic means to create from its foundations up an entirely new structure – an entirely new political party - which will be the voice for the English Nation.

In those 8 years we have spent a considerable sum of money, certainly in excess of £400,000, and we have spent a great deal of time and effort. As I look around this room I can see many of those who have put in what is well beyond the call of duty into this Cause and into trying to make it succeed.

We have shown in this recent General Election (as we did in the EU one last year, with 279,801 votes) that we are currently England’s 7th largest party. With 107 candidates (which was more than the SNP and Plaid Cymru put together), we got 64,826 votes. Our percentage in this election if it had been spread over the whole of England’s 533 seats, would have worked out at an averaged equivalent of 324,064 votes nationwide.

I think that we are now on the very cusp of making a breakthrough to being an established political party and an effective campaigning force for the English Nation.

So as we reflect on how far we have come we should thank those members who are here and also, in their absence, all those members who have helped us get where we are by campaigning, leafleting, standing in elections and taking part in building our organisation.

Could I ask our last year’s National Council Members to stand up. Ladies and Gentlemen, our National Council meets once a month and members of our National Council give their time and travel freely for the Cause and richly deserve our thanks.

Now could I please ask all those who stood in the General Election and helped us get not only 64,826 votes, but also the essential Party Election Broadcast and coverage in the broadcast media that we would not have got if we had stood less candidates.

Ladies and Gentlemen could I ask those parliamentary candidates who are present to stand up. They gave their time to the Cause freely and also in many cases spent significant amounts of money to make it possible and they richly deserve our thanks.

Last, but by no means least, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have quite a number of people who have stood in local elections. Standing in local elections isn’t as expensive as standing in parliamentary elections, as there is no deposit and the amount of leafleting is far less, but nevertheless it is a very important part of getting the message out there. Ladies and Gentlemen I would ask those who stood in local elections to stand so that we can thank them also for their time and effort for our Cause.

The reason why we are as near the cusp of breakthrough as we are is because in all these years we have been building our “brand awareness”. I am speaking in marketing terms. There is a marketing theory that unless someone has heard something about us at least five times, they do not actually fully register that they have heard of us, but after the fifth time they are likely to say to themselves that they have heard of us and perhaps will then consider supporting us.

All our hard work on building our brand awareness is working but please do remember that when you are discussing what the English Democrats are about, do compare us with the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru and not with the BNP. If you say we are not the BNP, not racist and so on, all of that is true, but it does create the wrong associations in people’s minds and involves you in a detailed explanation. Whereas if you simply say that we are like the Scottish National Party or Plaid Cymru for England then you are triggering different associations in people’s minds and then people are usually interested in hearing the details of what we are about – instead of pigeon holing us in a bad and dangerous pigeon hole!

In order to make the actual breakthrough to winning elections we do have to move from where we are at the moment which is simply leafleting for elections to actually canvassing electors. In election winning terms there can be no substitute to talking to as many electors as possible. Many parties do six “sweeps” of their target constituency. Each time taking note of waivers, supporters and opponents and making sure that supporters are followed up on election day to see they have in fact voted and also avoiding any further leafleting of opponents as they do not want to encourage them to vote.

Let me give you a quotation from another Chairman, “Be resolute, fear no sacrifice, and surmount every difficulty to win victory”. Chairman Mao Tse Tung.

Ladies and Gentlemen one of the things you might also like to consider that shows that we have had some success is the fact that a Commission to consider the West Lothian question (which I think should more properly be called the English Question), is an item that has been expressly agreed in the Coalition pact. Of course what has been agreed between them is that the issue will be kicked into the long grass and that the Commission will no doubt take many years to report, but the fact that the West Lothian question now has special prominence and that it has had to be treated in this way shows that we are making headway and that we are worrying the Westminster Establishment.

It is also interesting that even Labour have now been saying that they need to become a more English Party.

Both David Milliband and that darling of the left, John Cruddas, have said as much, along with a number of other Labour MPs.

As I have said the General Election showed us as being the 7th largest Party in England in terms of popular support. Ladies and Gentlemen, this has been achieved without any serious financial backing and with all the money raised from the pockets of Party members. If we are to be able to make that breakthrough we do need to raise more money and I would consider this issue to be one of our most serious challenges. I think all of us who have canvassed know that on the street there is tremendous potential support for this Party, but we do need the money which will enable us to be more organised and to do all that we need to do in terms of electioneering.

Ladies and Gentlemen building our name recognition branding in the political market place has cost many hours of hard work by our activists and, as I have said, has cost at least £400,000 of our Party Members’ money and Ladies and Gentlemen I have to tell you that we need much more to make the difference.

Ladies & Gentlemen, I don’t know if you have heard about the two young men, Jack and Bob, whose car got stuck in a torrential downpour in the Lake District a few years ago?

Luckily they were near a farmhouse and so asked the lady who answered the door if they could stay the night.

“I realise it’s terrible weather out there”, she said “and I have this huge house all to myself, but I’m worried neighbours will gossip if I let you stay in my house”

“Don’t worry,” Jack said to her. “We’ll be happy to sleep in the barn. And if the weather improves, we’ll be gone at dawn”.

The lady agreed, and the two men waded over to the barn and settled in for the night.

Come morning, the rain had cleared up, and they went on their way.

About nine months later, Jack got an unexpected letter from a Cumbrian solicitor. It took him a few minutes to understand it but he finally worked out that it was from the solicitor of that attractive widow he had met on that wet weekend.

He went round to see his friend Bob and asked, “Bob, do you remember that good-looking widow from the farm where we sheltered in the barn up in the Lake District?”

“Yes I do”, replied Bob

“Did you happen to get up in the middle of the night, go up to the house and pay her a visit?” asked Jack

“Yes,” Bob said, a little embarrassed about being found out. “I have to admit that I did”.

“And did you happen to use my name instead of telling her your name?”

Bob’s face turned bright pink and he said, “Yes, Sorry mate. I’m afraid I did. Why do you ask?”

Jack replied “Well she just died and left me all her money.”

So could I please urge that if any of you are in that kind of situation, please could you say that your name is “English Democrats” because we could really do with having the legacy!

Ladies and Gentlemen, let us now ookin around us at the political situation we now find ourselves in.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have had a look at Nick Clegg’s recent speech to the Liberal Democrat Conference and it may surprise you to hear me say it but “I agree with Nick” when he says “Britain in 2010 is anxious, unsure about the future, but Britain in 2015 will be a different country” - but not, I think, for the reasons that he gave!

Looking around the world, Coalition Governments lead often to a realignment of politics. Let me give you an example. If you look at the Coalition Government formed in 1916 and which went on until 1922. It led to a dramatic realignment of politics. If you consider that the Conservative Party before the First World War was something of a rump of extremists with their then leader being involved in gun-running to Northern Ireland, but by 1922 the boundaries of what it meant to be Conservative had changed dramatically. So, for example, a man who had been one of the leading lights of the Liberal Party and had for some years been regularly a Liberal Cabinet Minister, I mean Winston Churchill. By 1922 he had become a Conservative and the Liberal Party itself was left as a small rump which never held power again, until one might argue this year.

Churchill had originally, when he first entered Parliament, been elected as a Conservative but he had ratted soon afterwards. In 1922 he was accused of ratting again and he said that “Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain amount of ingenuity to re-rat”!

So what I say is that Nick is right that it will be a different country by 2015 because of the likely realignment of politics – that may well not suit Nick!

Turning to Labour, interestingly Labour didn’t suffer as much of a collapse in support as it seemed possible they might have done at some stages in the run up to the election. I think this was partly due to David Cameron’s brand of Conservatism, and to it not being at all clear what he stood for, but also that Labour voters turned out to be as deeply tribal about supporting Labour as any Conservative votes are about voting Conservative.

However buried under the AV Referendum is a clever move by the Conservatives, which is to equalize the size of the constituencies.

Labour’s chances of winning an election will be dramatically reduced by this as the current electoral system has been very skewed towards Labour victory and of course the Boundary Commission which had been appointed during Labour’s time in office had been increasingly pro-Labour. The new arrangements will also give Cameron the opportunity of replacing them with his appointments.

The AV Referendum itself could be of interest to us because although both Labour and Conservative strategists believe that the alternative vote system will help to entrench support for the three main parties and discourage support for other parties, their calculations are based on voters voting exactly the same way as they currently vote. But if you actually look at the way people vote, when given the alternative, then the picture is not so clear cut. Consider how many votes UKIP get in EU elections as opposed to their results in General Elections and, indeed, consider the fact that when second preferences were counted in the Doncaster Mayoral election - we won!

Looking wider afield, while the Greens got a parliamentary seat in Brighton and will therefore inevitably get more coverage in future parliamentary elections, nevertheless they came nowhere near winning in their other target seat of Norwich and they actually had a dramatic reduction in their votes elsewhere in the country. I would also say that Brighton is a very unusual seat with a very unusual social mix and therefore perhaps in a way it may show the high water mark of what the Greens can achieve.

So far as UKIP is concerned, they are of course in another leadership election with it seeming likely that Nigel Farage will become Leader of their Party again. Many of you will know that we, as a Party, did try to have an electoral pact in place for the General Election so that Eurosceptic parties would not stand against each other and had a meeting with Lord Pearson and members of UKIP’s NEC, after which it became clear that in fact UKIP wasn’t seriously campaigning to win seats in the General Election, but was instead campaigning to get more votes because they think that Party State funding will be apportioned in future on the number of votes. Their leadership is really their NEC and it is controlled by their MEPs and so is more interested in fighting EU elections than in winning Westminster seats.

The BNP of course are warring amongst themselves, following their poor showing in the General Election. They appear to be in deep financial trouble as well.

All this leaves the English Democrats as one of the few smaller parties that made any headway in the General Election. So my message to you, Ladies and Gentlemen, for the coming year is another one of Churchill’s famous sayings which I suspect was a reference to the way the army worked in the trenches in the First World War, where the Commander in Chief regularly issued orders of the day to try and encourage the troops to greater exertion and sacrifice. Churchill’s version of the order of the day, was “That the order of the day is KBO” – Keep buggering on!

Consider every time we make contact with people we are raising our profile. Consider what has happened with the BNP over the last few years. As recently as the Uxbridge by-election on the 31st July 1997, the BNP was beaten by the Monster Raving Loony Party and really had no national profile.

D Sutch Official Monster Raving Loony Party 396 1.2%
I Anderson British National Party 205 0.6%

Consider that our Party has now reached the point where in a number of parts of the country we have reached a critical mass, where instead of what happened originally within our Party, which was that members of the National Council had to get involved in encouraging people to stand in local government by-elections, now it is just happening without any input from the National Council. This helps us as a Party maintain our impetus between big elections.

Consider also that in this conference we have an exciting new initiative to announce to you Ladies and Gentlemen which I am very excited about and which I think positions our Party very much on the ground of what we are really about - which is improving democracy in England.

That initiative is for petitions for referenda to have directly elected Mayors running local government everywhere in England.

In the afternoon of this conference we have got Professor Colin Copus, who is the leading academic commentator on directly elected mayors and Peter Davies, our elected Mayor, going to speak to us about the Mayoralty.

I and others who have already got some experience of running these campaigns will be talking about the nuts and bolts of how you can make it happen where you live, but the results that we have obtained in terms of local coverage, has really been beyond our wildest dreams.

Ladies and Gentlemen let me tell you that when I launched the petition for a mayoralty in Brentwood Borough Council, I not only got full page coverage, the lead editorial, but also a letter published in the leading local paper.

Ladies and Gentlemen, that coverage was more coverage on that one issue than I had got locally in all the years of campaigning. The mayoralty campaign is an issue where we can get genuine interest from local papers. It is a local issue, it is about democracy. It will get our name out there in a way that campaigning on our more national orientated issues is beyond the remit of local papers.

We know from long experience that it is very hard to get national coverage for what we are saying because the national media is British or EU’ish in its leanings and it is also usually tied into one or other of the Establishment parties.

Referenda for elected mayors is an issue, Ladies and Gentlemen, where I think we can make real headway and I hope, once you have heard what we are planning, you will be as excited about it as I am.

Now Ladies and Gentlemen with those thoughts in mind I turn to our agenda for today.